The U.S. Congress has passed legislation that will keep the federal government from shutting down and allow the United States to continue to lift people around the world from hunger and poverty in fiscal year 2012.

Both the House and Senate approved the fiscal year 2012 omnibus bill. Funding for poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA), including funding for food aid that passed in November as part of the agriculture appropriations bill, fared well. Total PFDA in FY12 will be funded at $ 21.3 billion, compared to $ 21.4 billion in FY11.

We are very pleased with the level of PFDA funding. It’s a testament to the impact Bread members had in calling for a circle of protection around poverty-focused development assistance.“- David Beckmann President Bread for the World

U.S. development assistance will continue to save millions of lives by providing medicines to prevent infants from being born with HIV, bringing safe drinking water to poor communities, and preventing millions of children from being malnourished during the critical 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2.

It is also important that despite efforts to make deep cuts to poverty-focused development assistance, Congress today affirmed that foreign aid is an important part of our national security and must continue,” added Beckmann.

Total funding for State Foreign Operations Appropriations, the account that includes development assistance, was $ 53 billion. Funding for this account continues to be vulnerable.

In addition, the Senate passed a short-term extension of the payroll tax and unemployment benefits, and the House is expected to pass the bill shortly. Unemployment insurance is especially important to people in need.

With millions still unable to find work, we urge members of Congress to pass a full year extension of unemployment benefits when they return after the New Year,” said Beckmann.